The Sault Star
DATE Fri 21 Dec 2001
OTTAWA -- An Ottawa man is questioning the privacy and security of the federal government's gun registry system after he mistakenly received someone else's firearm registration certificates.
Gary Shaver says when he opened an envelope containing his firearm registry certification he was shocked to find another gun owner's forms mixed with his own.
Shaver says he was already upset with "the waste" in the system before he received this latest package, but the incident "put the icing on the cake."
"I think they should take a little more care in hiring people for this job," he said. "This was supposed to be a secure system."
Chantale Breton, a media information officer at the Canadian Firearms Centre, says Shaver's case is an isolated incident.
"Very few concerns of this nature have come to our attention," she said.
Breton says the registry has been restructured recently to reduce these types of errors.
She says the Canadian Firearms Centre now sends out personalized forms that include a bar code to avoid manual errors when processing information.
When there are concerns, she says the centre "takes the necessary steps to rectify the situation."
But Dennis Young, parliamentary secretary to Canadian Alliance MP Garry Breitkreuz, a gun registry critic, says this type of mix-up "happens all the time."
Young says he's heard stories of people receiving multiple licences or licences with incorrect photo identification. In one case a member of the Hells' Angels biker gang received a person's package by mistake, drove up to the person's house to return the certificates, and said he didn't have any guns, but he would know where to come if he ever did.
"This is rampant," said Young. "This is an absolute mess the government continues to hide."
Young says the Canadian Alliance first raised issues about problems within the registry in the House of Commons during the spring of 1999 after the first few certificates were distributed.
He says the real problems within the registry won't be made fully public until the auditor general can review the program when it's completed at the beginning of 2003.
Bill Blaikie, justice critic for the NDP, says regardless of if and when the auditor general looks into these errors, the government should be reviewing the system. "If the system isn't confidential then this runs contrary to
the purpose of the program."
Even if the auditor general investigates the problems in the registry, Breitkreuz says he doesn't believe the government will pay any attention to the report. "They continually assure us they're going to correct the errors," he said, "then a little while later we hear the same problems."
Calling the registry a "huge boondoggle" and "the most expensive garbage dump in the world," Breitkreuz says the government would be wise to scrap the registry in its current form.
"We're currently debating the budget and the government is asking us where would you cut spending," he said. "Right here."
Shaver says he agrees with the reasons behind the registry, but not the amount of paperwork required or breaches of security.
"I'm not a gun-nut," he said. "I think it's a good idea to have a record of who owns what, but it should be done properly."It was a good article up to this last comment!